Studying this Palaeontology and Geology BSc degree course will give you a rigorous training in palaeontology, enabling you to use the fossil record to understand the evolution and diversity of ancient life, from dinosaurs to microfossils.
You will be taught by lecturers from one of the largest and strongest palaeobiology research groups in the UK, and our focus on research-led teaching will provide you with exciting opportunities to carry out your own cutting-edge research projects. The rich fossil collections of our Lapworth Museum of Geology provide a unique resource that supports our teaching and research.
This course will provide you with the skills necessary to develop a career as a professional palaeontologist engaged in research and teaching or in museum curation, or as an applied palaeontologist/biostratigrapher within the oil industry. Your core training in geology will also provide opportunities for a potential career as a geoscientist, if this is the career path you would like to take.
All first year modules are compulsory and span the breadth of Earth Sciences and include contributions from the Biology group. From year two onwards, there is more focus on palaeontology and an increasing amount of choice that allows you to select modules following your interests.
In year three (and four) you will also complete independent Earth Science research projects based on primary data collected in the field/laboratory or museum developing your practical, analytical and communication skills.
In addition to lectures and practical classes, you can look forward to fieldwork training in palaeobiological and geological techniques. This work is undertaken both in the UK and abroad, and is assessed by means of field-driven reports, presentations and field notebook.
Getting out of the lecture theatre and into the field is an exhilarating experience. Whether you're sampling, mapping or collecting data, the subject matter really comes alive. There's no better way to learn about the natural and the built world than by being in the great outdoors.
Fieldwork is an essential element of our degree programmes, and Earth Sciences at Birmingham has an outstanding reputation for providing its students with high quality field training. It offers you the chance to travel, work independently as well as in a group and learn valuable technical skills. We will make the necessary arrangements to accommodate students with disabilities for field courses throughout your time at Birmingham.
Basic fieldwork kit for all new starters
When you start in Birmingham, we will provide you with the basic field supplies (worth ~£85) that you will need for your degree program. Please note that you are responsible for providing suitable outdoor clothing for fieldwork. For more details see fieldwork costs and funding.
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One option on this degree programme is to undertake a Placement Year, which provides you with an opportunity to work with an external organisation for a year, gaining valuable experience and skills that prepare you for your future career. The placement can be with any organisation which allows you to get experience in a sector related to your degree or outside your main discipline. For example, students have completed placements with finance companies, education and environmental charities. With this option, your degree at graduation would be “with a Placement Year”. You don’t have to decide this route at the application stage, but it is an option that you can transfer onto once you are a student here. You will be responsible for sourcing your placement but we will provide support through the Placement Tutor and Careers Network. Your placement would take place after the second year of your degree, and you would then return for the final year at Birmingham. The placement forms part of your degree programme, and includes an assignment that contributes to your overall degree result. The placement year is normally charged at 20% of the normal tuition fee for home students and 50% for non-home students.
In year one, semester one there is a one-week residential field course to Northern Ireland. In semester two, there is a one-week residential field course to Pembrokeshire in SW Wales. For more details please see the Modules tab. These courses will provide you with practical skills and theory spanning the breadth of Earth Sciences. All students taking Earth Sciences courses do these trips together giving you the opportunity to get to know those on the Geology, and Geology and Physical Geography Courses.
In year two, we continue to develop your core Geology skills but with an increasing emphasis on bespoke content relevant to your degree - in this case developing your field skills in Palaeontology. There is a one-week residential field course to NW Scotland. The first half of the week focuses on Palaeozoic and Quaternary Geology, and in the latter half of the week the evolution of Mesozoic terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and associated palaeoenvironmental change. In semester two, there is a one-week residential field course to SW England working along the world famous “Jurassic Coast. Between year two and three you will also complete approximately one week of fieldwork contributing towards your year three dissertation.
In year three, there is a residential fieldcourse to Utah, USA that will teach students about the processes involved in finding, collecting, preparing, studying and exhibiting fossils.
Why study this course?
There are plenty of reasons to study Palaeontology and Geology BSc at Birmingham:
- World top 150 for Earth and Marine Sciences in the QS World University Rankings by subject 2020
- The Lapworth Museum of Geology – one of the oldest and finest specialist geological museums in the UK, housing more than 250,000 specimens. Reopen following a £2.7m redevelopment project, it is an invaluable study resource.
- Accreditation - Our Earth Sciences degree programmes are accredited by the Geological Society of London, highlighting that they offer sound training for a professional career in the geosciences, and satisfy the academic requirements of Fellowship and Chartered Geologist status.
- Research - The latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) results rank research at the University of Birmingham as 3rd* in the UK for ‘Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences’.
- Scope - Be taught by enthusiastic and world-class lecturers from one of the largest and strongest palaeobiology research groups in the UK, with expertise spanning Paleozoic to modern ecosystems on land and in the oceans utilising traditional field based palaeontology as well as the latest in statistical and digital techniques. Our focus on research-led teaching will provide you with exciting opportunities to carry out your own cutting-edge research projects.
- Fieldwork - Recent destinations have included South East Spain, the Scottish Highlands, and from 2020 the USA. The costs of travel and accommodation on all compulsory field courses are covered by the University.